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Should Kids Be Studying or Playing on Snow Days?

Have your kids been home from school for the past few days, snowbound on the East Coast? If so, did they bring home extra work from school that they are supposed to do? Are they expected to log in and do schoolwork online? Or are they able to play in the snow, drink hot chocolate, and treat this time off as a delightful break? 

I'm showing my age now, but I remember being home from school for at least a week after the Blizzard of '78 outside of Boston. I do not recall doing any homework during that time. I do recall making a snow fort, jumping off the wall in back of our yard to the much lower rural property behind us, and walking down the middle of the street to get to my dad's store. I'm sure that I also read books and played games, though I don't remember that specifically. The experience conveyed in John Rocco's excellent picture book Blizzard resonates with me. 

Sheila Ruth shared (on Facebook) a Washington Post article by Moriah Balingit: Expecting to enjoy a lazy snow day? Teachers urge parents, students to think again. Most of the article is about schools (even preschool) expecting kids to do work at home, either worksheets that were sent home with them, or via online login. I only noted one exception to that approach:

"Evan Glazer, principal of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, said teachers at the elite magnet school do not give assignments on new material during snow days. While that can create stress for teachers, who worry about how they will cram a year’s worth of advanced curriculum into one shortened by snow days, it is also a bit of a respite for students who will likely be studying and working on long-term projects anyhow, Glazer said.

“We want them to go out and play and make snowmen and snow angels, because it doesn’t happen all that often,” Glazer said. “You might as well take a break when Mother Nature gives you the opportunity.”"

I know which of the schools in the article that I would prefer for my daughter to attend. 

I also ran across a similar NPR article: For Some Schools, Learning Doesn't Stop on Snow Days. This article does make the point that (for at least one school) e-learning during snow days is a way to avoid having to make up the snow days at the end of the year. But I don't know... I'd still rather see kids out playing in the snow than sitting in front of their computers, listening to podcasts from their teacher. 

On a lighter note, I liked this blog piece by mom and freelance writer Laura Goodman: Advice for Bored Children. Goodman says that if kids are tired of playing the snow, they should create something, or build something, or read something, or play. They should not expect the adult to entertain them. She specifically instructs that the kids should play amongst themselves (with a guideline or two), and leave the adult to do "a list of activities as long as your tiny bored little arm that I do each day to keep our household in order". The piece is written in a tongue-in-cheek style, but I think that Goodman is absolutely right.

A couple of unexpected days at home are a great opportunity for kids to play, read, build, and create. For kids with neighbors or siblings, snow days offer a chance to practice negotiating and cooperating. And have fun! I find it sad that many kids today are expected instead to sit around on their computers or tablets, logging in to do school projects. [I also have concerns about inequity, for the kids who can't log in, or don't have parents at home to help them, but that's a topic for another post.]

What do you all think? We are extremely unlikely to experience any snow days here in San Jose, but I wonder how those of you in snowy places handle this? I say: let them make snow forts. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links.